Once again the Sky Blues have been humiliated in a cup competition, Conference North side Worcester City dumping them out of the 2014-15 FA Cup at the first hurdle. This is the first time since 1959 that the club have failed to reach the Second Round of the competition – but at least that year they managed to force a replay with fellow Third Division side Southampton to ensure they were in the draw for the second round. You have to go back to 1956 to find the last time Coventry City weren't in the draw for the Second Round – that year they lost 2-1 at Swindon in the First Round.
Sunday's tame capitulation to a side three divisions below them, was the seventh defeat suffered at the hands of a non-league team since the club were elected to the Football League in 1919. The full list of those previous giant-killers is: Rochdale (1920), New Brighton (1922), Worksop (1925), Scunthorpe (1935), Kings Lynn (1961) & Sutton United (1989). The majority of City's non-league victors have been one or two levels below them in status, the major exception being Sutton, who were four levels below the Sky Blues in 1989. Sunday's embarrassment must therefore rank as the second worst ever, after Sutton. Interestingly only one of those embarrassing defeats has cost the Coventry manager his job, Billy Frith making way for Jimmy Hill four days after the Kings Lynn debacle, although JH did reveal in his biography that Derrick Robins had offered him the manager's job before the Kings Lynn game but he didn't decide to take it until after watching City fall to defeat against the Linnets, sitting incognito in the stand. Frith was already a marked man before the Cup game.
The Worcester result was not helped by the red card given to young goalkeeper Lee Burge, an action which has earned him much criticism from the management and supporters. Lee became the first City goalkeeper to be sent off in an FA Cup game and only the fourth ever to be given marching orders.
Steve Ogrizovic was sent off for handling outside the box in a League Cup tie at Wolves in November 1995, City going on to lose 2-1.
Chris Kirkland received his red card at Stamford Bridge in October 2000 – a bad decision that enabled Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink to stroke home the penalty for the first of his four goals in Chelsea’s 6-1 romp.
Ian Bennett got his marching orders at home to Stoke in February 2005 – again for handling outside the box – and, with no keeper on the bench, midfielder Stephen Hughes took over between the sticks to help earn the Sky Blues a 0-0 draw.
Mick Williams from Coundon was in touch with me recently. Last month he celebrated 52 years as a supporter of Coventry City. His first game was in 1962 against Hull City in the old Third division which ended in a 2-2 draw in front of over 11,800 fans at Highfield Road (Willie Humphries & Roy Dwight scoring for the Sky Blues). This is what he wrote about that day:
When the day arrived I remember being a very exited seven-year old and was looking forward to wearing "the football scarf" that I had seen in one of cupboards in our house. However, Dad told me that under no circumstances would I be wearing the "football scarf" and that I would soon see why not. When the time came we walked from our house in St Margaret Road that was just the other side of Gosford Green to Highfield Road and which lay in the shadows of those strange looking lights that reached up into the sky on top of those criss cross pylons. As the teams took the field it seemed unfair to me that I had been forbidden to wear the "football scarf" as one of the teams were kitted out in exactly the same colour as the said item. Dad explained to me that the team that we were supporting were the one playing in Sky Blue and not yellow and black and that the "football scarf" was in fact the scarf that he wore for watching our speedway team the Brandon Bees as they were then known.
And so the love affair began. I have been on the roller coaster all the way through (except we didn't go to Sixfields) from then through to today and my partner and I have our season tickets in block 36 at the Ricoh. It's a bit ironic that we are now in a league position that is lower than all of the previous years of my support and gates that are also significantly lower. I guess the only way is up.
He also related a humorous story:
I'm not sure what year it would have been but I was still a youngster. One weekday evening my Dad had returned home from work and was sitting in his chair reading the Telegraph sports page when he looked up and said "I didn't realise we were playing at home tonight". He told me to hurry up and put my coat on and not to forget my hat and scarf. We walked at a hurried pace down St Margaret Road, Dad virtually dragging me along with his hand clasped firmly around mine. We walked faster and faster and even ran across Gulson Road and then into Gosford Green. It was then that the pace became a little more relaxed. In fact the pace became so relaxed that half way across we came to a stand still with Dad telling me "take of your hat and put it in your pocket" and also "pull your collar up over your scarf". We then did a full turn-around and headed for home. Just to say I was a bit confused was an under-statement, I was also very disappointed. I guess it may have been the lack of parked cars in the streets that may have first stirred Dad's suspicions but I think what really confirmed his thoughts would have been the lack of illumination from the floodlights as we walked across Gosford Green. It was some time before Dad owned up to what had actually happened. Sitting in his chair that evening with his copy of the Telegraph he had indeed read that we had a game that night..........AT THE "CITY" GROUND....... in Nottingham.
Great memories Mick!
The Former Players Association are enjoying being back at the G-Casino after home matches with Billy Bell interviewing the day's special guest on stage. Today, 1987 hero Greg Downs is the guest but I have been asked to tell fans that his appearance on stage will be delayed until 5.45 to enable the England-Slovenia game to be shown on the large screens. So if you want to watch the England game & see Greg get down to the casino after the game.